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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 11, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 18, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 25, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Epiphany 4C RCL January 31, 2016

Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
I Corinthians 13: 1-13
Luke 4:21-30

Our first reading today is from the Book of Jeremiah. God called Jeremiah to be a prophet when Jeremiah was only about eighteen years old. Jeremiah did not want to be a prophet. He was probably well aware that the life and ministry of a prophet is not easy or happy and it can sometimes be downright dangerous.

Have you ever been called to do something you just didn’t want to do? Have you ever felt that God was asking you to do something that was just beyond you? I think most of us have. I know I have felt that way at times.

But then, as we are telling God about all the reasons why we just can’t do whatever it is, God tells us that God has known us and loved us since before we were born and God is going to give us the gifts we need to do this challenging thing. And, though we may be reluctant, or even scared, we say Yes to God. The Bible and the lives of the saints are full of the stories of people who felt they were not good enough or strong enough or eloquent enough or wise enough, but who said yes because God promised to go with them and help them every step of the way.

Our epistle for today is First Corinthians, Chapter 13, verses one through thirteen. Paul is speaking to those people in the congregation in Corinth who thought they knew everything and thought they had gifts that were greater than the gifts of others, especially the gift of speaking in tongues, and he is saying that, if we do not have love, we have nothing. I wonder how some of those arrogant people felt when they heard this letter. I wonder if Paul got through to them. He certainly expressed it clearly. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. It bears all things, believes all things. hopes all things, endures all things.”

What Paul is describing is the form of love called in Greek agape. This is the kind of unconditional love which God gives to us. It is the kind of love we aim for and will never reach. But it is a wonderful goal for our lives. It is an excellent model, and I know that all of us try to follow that model.

There are some situations in which this model is not to be followed. These are cases of extreme danger and we have to follow different models. One of those is war and the other is situations of abuse or domestic violence. In situations of abuse, for example, we are not called to endure all things. We are called to protect ourselves, to escape, and to save our lives.

Our gospel continues from last Sunday when Jesus read the words of Isaiah which describe his and our ministry to free people from anything that imprisons them. After he finishes reading, Jesus says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The people speak well of him.

Herbert O’Driscoll speculates that Jesus may have heard some adverse comments in the streets of Nazareth. O Driscoll writes, “Have people already said things to him on this visit home that we have not overheard? It sounds as if he has been hurt to some extent and feels resentful.” (O’Driscoll, The Word Among Us Year C Volume 1, p. 93.)

Jesus points out,” No prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town.” And then he gives examples of two times when God called prophets to minister to people outside the faith community. Elijah was sent to help the widow of Zarephath, who was a Gentile, and Elisha was called to heal Naaman, who was also a Gentile.

Jesus is making it clear that God’s love is for all people, and this makes the people listening to him so angry that they try to throw him over a cliff.

God loves everyone, and some of the people in Jesus’ hometown did not take kindly to that idea. Some time ago, theologian J. B. Phillips wrote a book called Your God Is Too Small. Some folks got quite upset at that title, but it helps us to realize that we humans tend to try to limit God.

O’Driscoll comments, “Today, this passage warns against our having a limited vision of God. Our Lord pledges his utter commitment to the work of liberating human lives.”

Perhaps the most powerful example of someone who started out with a limited idea of God and had his life transformed by our Lord is Saint Paul. This past Monday, we celebrated the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Saul, a Pharisee and a Roman citizen, thought he was serving God by persecuting followers of Jesus. On once occasion, Saul watched an angry crowd stone a man to death. This man was a faithful deacon  named Stephen, and he became the first Christian martyr.

Paul was on his way to Damascus to continue his mission of persecution when a blinding light shone all-around him and Jesus asked him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Saul did a complete one-eighty and followed Jesus with faith and courage until he died as a martyr in Rome in 64 A.D. We can understand how close he was to our Lord by reading and meditating on the passage in our epistle for today. He was beaten, thrown in prison numerous times, suffered shipwrecks. You name it; he went through it. Yet Paul is the one who wrote, “It is not I who lives but Christ who lives in me.”

What are these readings telling us? It is not always easy to answer God’s call. It is not always easy to follow Jesus. But our Lord is always right here with us, leading and guiding us. St. Paul gives us a description of agape. Jesus brings that description to life. God’s love is limitless. It includes everyone. May we accept God’s love for us. Amen.